Research Finds Proper, In time Rainfall Forecasts Improve Agricultural Yields

The outlook of the Sub-Saharan Africa, which entirely relies on the potential of its agricultural sector to feed its growing population, suffers an alarming level of starvation deaths as much as 30%, considered as the highest globally.

To overcome the problem, the countries tried increasing their productivity mostly by expanding the cultivation areas. But the agricultural yield in these countries has reached the saturation level and in some of the countries such as Niger, it has come down.

The only options farmers growing millet in Niger often have concern a small number of varieties of that cereal. Credit: IRD

According to research scientists from institutions such as the Regional Centre of Agrhymet, CIRAD, CIRED and the IRD, though the farm yields can be maximized by the use of the correct sowing techniques and micro-fertilization, the option of forecasting accurate climate is considered as a viable and cost-friendly action to benefit the West-African farmers. It also found that though seasonal weather forecasts from PRESAO are supplied in each country by its national meteorological services such information rarely reaches the formers. Though the consequences of seasonal weather predictions in agricultural system are still not known, the researchers on the subject reiterate the significance of using it against the vagaries of the region’s climate.

The research has recognized that by changing the growing strategies every year intone with the weather forecasts increases the production level up to 80%. By citing a previous study, they demonstrated it utilizing a numerical pattern of a farm in Senegal. However, they cautioned that the initial results will be applicable only to locations such as the Saloum Delta with adequate levels of rainfall, other inputs and required labor to grow cash crops such as groundnut. Surprisingly, they also found that using of such techniques in places such as Niger, which grows millet as the basic food to meet 75% of the national production and with remote possibilities to maneuver will still increase the agricultural earning level by up to 30%.

The research team utilized the field data gathered by the research partners of AgrhymetAGRHYMET’s on the existing crop growing conditions in Niger and utilized agronomic patterning tools to simulate various adjustments deployed by a millet grower from Niger to appraise the long term gains of climate forecasts to improve agricultural yields. They utilized the climate forecasts of 18 years from 1990 to 2007 and simulated a range of scenarios to assess their benefits and found that the gains can be improved from the lowest level of 7% to a maximum of 31% with more refined data.

The results of the research confirm the advantages of fine tuning the weather forecasts and conveying them properly to the farmers in time by utilizing a propagating medium and internet could assist the farmers to take valid choices to plan the growing schedules of their crops to increase the crop yields and their income.



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